Talent Development 101: A Primer on Best Practices in Diversity Management

Here's a roadmap of three critical talent-development best practices that will help you promote, engage and retain more talented people, especially from underrepresented groups.

How do you move more women, Blacks, Latinos, Asians, American Indians, LGBT people and people with disabilities into your management pipeline and maximize their engagement and innovation? DiversityInc Top 50 data shows a direct correlation between companies that follow these three diversity-management best practices for talent development and their human-capital results.


Talent-Development Best Practice No. 1: Have an Executive Diversity Council With Accountability for Results

Companies that want a dramatic escalation of the diversity of their human-capital numbers, especially in senior-management ranks, have found that a strong executive council, led by the CEO, has the quickest and most sustainable results.

Follow these steps:

  • Have the diversity council chaired by the CEO to send the clear message that this is a top priority
  • The diversity council should be comprised of senior executives, direct reports to the CEO and others who have a clear interest in diversity management's outcome on the business, including the head of procurement, the head of sales and the head of HR
  • The chief diversity officer should also be a member of the diversity council
  • If the organization has developed resource groups to assist in business and talent-development goals, taking two resource-group leaders every year and giving them rotating positions on the council brings fresh ideas from a different perspective
  • The diversity council should meet at least quarterly and should have monthly updates on diversity-management progress
  • The diversity council, at the beginning of the year, should set overall goals for its diversity efforts, including human-capital goals but also goals for procurement, set-up and participation in resource groups, mentoring participation, community philanthropy to multicultural organizations, and other diversity-related initiatives
  • Diversity-council members' compensation should be linked to the overall success of these diversity-management goals and individual diversity goals set for them

Talent-Development Best Practice No. 2: Make Formal Cross-Cultural Mentoring Available to All Managers

Both academic studies and DiversityInc Top 50 data show a direct correlation between formal, cross-cultural mentoring and promotions of underrepresented groups in management levels. Follow these steps:

  • Include the top three levels of your organization in the mentoring program and make participation part of senior executives' performance evaluation
  • Expand your cross-cultural mentoring program to as many managers as possible throughout the organization, using flexible options such as virtual mentoring and group mentoring
  • Create as many cross-cultural pairings as possible
  • Ensure both mentors and mentees have cultural-awareness and diversity training before they start the formal relationship
  • Monitor the relationships every three months to ensure they are working smoothly
  • Have finite periods for mentor/mentee relationships, usually one year
  • Measure engagement, retention and promotion of mentees versus non-mentees

Talent-Development Best Practice No. 3: Use Resource Groups to Find & Develop Talent

Resource groups are the best way to find that hidden talent—people who may have leadership potential but don't have the right education or experience to be considered. Resource groups can encourage them to progress and give them confidence to ask for more.

Follow these steps:

  • Ask resource-group leaders to identify talented people within their midst and invite them to take on leadership positions within the resource group
  • Give the talent potentials cross-functional assignments within the group so they learn new skills
  • Pair them with experienced leaders
  • Ensure they have cross-cultural mentors within the organization
  • Track their engagement, retention and promotion and publicize their success stories so others seek out similar talent-development opportunities

For more best practices for equitable talent development, read Increasing Diversity in Talent Development.

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